RFTA puts coupons in riders’ pockets | AspenTimes.com

RFTA puts coupons in riders’ pockets

ASPEN – There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but you can get a free cup of coffee – among other things – for riding the bus.

“We need to ride out the recession together, so we’ve come up with a plan: ‘Ride Local – Buy Local,'” said Dawn Mullally Chase, marketing and creative manager for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA). “Basically, if you ride the bus, you get a coupon worth something at a local business.”

As part of the promotion, which kicked off Friday and continues through Nov. 30, bus riders receive one coupon good at dozens of local businesses each time they ride RFTA. The deal is available on all bus routes, including both valleywide fare buses and free local buses; all riders have to do is ask the driver for a coupon.

“What we’re trying to do with ‘Ride Local – Buy Local’ is two-fold. First, we want to keep folks on the bus and to get people who haven’t ridden the bus before to give it a try,” Chase said.

She noted RFTA’s ridership numbers have suffered during the recession, with regional service down 12 percent system-wide in the Roaring Fork Valley through July (Aspen’s free bus service was off 9.6 percent for the same period).

“And second, we want to encourage people to put their transit savings back into the local economy,” she added.

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According to Chase, a study by the American Public Transportation Association showed that if a person chose transit over driving, he or she would save an average of $9,381 a year.

“What we’re trying to say is, ‘Why don’t you save a little money by trying transit, and then we’ll give you a coupon to reinvest in the local economy,” Chase explained.

Toward that end, RFTA – in partnership with the chambers of commerce in Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs – created the new program.

Some 50 businesses from Aspen to Glenwood Springs are participating in Ride Local – Buy Local, and RFTA is hoping more businesses will come on board. Each business chooses what it will give to coupon-holders, with current offerings ranging from discounts on purchases to buy-one-get-one-for-less (or free) deals. A few business are even giving things away: I Pro Center in Aspen will diagnose a problem on your Apple computer; in Carbondale, Dos Gringos is offering a free cup of coffee, and Konnyaku is serving up free edamame; and the Glenwood Center for the Arts will let you take a class gratis. (A complete list of participating businesses and discounts can be found at http://www.rfta.com.)

“Everyone is feeling the pinch of the recession, including RFTA, and this just seemed like a great way to work together,” Chase said. “People are very positive about teaming up to make things move forward together.”

jmcgovern@aspentimes.com

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